Home to some of Japan’s oldest trees, Yakushima is a subtropical island blanketed in UNESCO World Heritage-listed yakusugi cedar forests. It’s renowned for the towering Ooko-no-taki waterfall and the turtle nesting beach at Nagata Inaka-hama, as well as fascinating museums exploring the island’s unique ecology.
Things to do in Yakushima
Enjoy the outdoors at Kirishima-Yaku National Park, as there are numerous hiking trails through its yakusugi cedar forests. Follow the famous Arakawa Trail along the slopes of Mount Miyanoura to the ancient Jōmon Sugi tree, which is the oldest and largest old-growth cryptomeria on the island.
Learn about the island’s natural wonders at the Yakusugi Museum, which features hands-on exhibits, photos and videos detailing Yakushima’s cedar forests and the historic logging industry. Hug a section of a 1,660-year-old yakusugi tree, then visit the nearby World Heritage Conservation Center, which maps out the island’s protected sites.
Be awed by the 88-metre-high waterfall of Ooko-no-taki, one of Japan’s most impressive cascades. Follow the paved trail to the waterfall’s viewing platform or climb over boulders to access the spectacular plunge pool at its base.
In the north-west region of the island is Nagata Inaka-hama, a beautiful sandy beach that’s frequented by nesting loggerhead turtles. Visit the Yakushima Sea Turtle Museum to learn about their lifestyle and behaviour or swim in the inviting waters of the East China Sea.
Getting around Yakushima
There are direct flights to Fukuoka and Osaka from Yakushima Airport on the island’s east coast and regular ferries to Kagoshima and Shimama. Buses travel along the highway ringing the island, but having your own vehicle or scooter offers more flexibility.